CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami coach Al Golden's second season at the school is beginning much like his first one, with new accusations of rule breaking, the looming threat of serious NCAA sanctions and no apparent end in sight for the long probe into the Hurricanes' compliance practices.
Citing unidentified sources, Yahoo Sports reported Friday that former Miami football employee Sean Allen — who has been linked to one-time booster and now convicted Ponzi scheme architect Nevin Shapiro through the improper-benefits scandal that broke last year — assisted members of Golden's coaching staff with recruiting.
If true, that could be a major NCAA violation by the troubled program.
Miami has been bracing for additional allegations, and was aware that they were coming. In an e-mail, university President Donna Shalala told trustees Thursday that "someone who had a low level position at one time" was expected to allege that Miami assistant coach and former NFL player Micheal Barrow committed recruiting violations.
Yahoo reported that Allen tried to aid both Barrow and former assistant Aubrey Hill, who left the Hurricanes less than a month after Golden was hired and is now the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida, where he was a senior captain on the Gators' 1994 SEC Championship team. It cited Allen's phone records, detailing calls he made to recruits — often moments before or after calling Barrow or Hill.
Earlier Friday, two people with knowledge of the situation said that NCAA investigators visited Miami for several days earlier this month, just the latest round of the lengthy inquiry into the Hurricanes' athletic department.
Shapiro's claims that he provided dozens of Miami athletes and recruits with extra benefits over an eight-year span were published by Yahoo Sports last August.
The university did not have immediate comment Friday.
Some current players were listed as having contact with Allen during their recruiting process, including standout defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo who told the News Sentinel in the wake of Randy Shannon's firing at Miami that he was "looking at" Tennessee before he eventually stuck with his commitment to the Hurricanes.
Chickillo, according to the new Yahoo Sports report, was taken to a strip club on his recruiting visit by former Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon, who decided after last season to skip his final season with the Hurricanes and make himself eligible for the NFL draft. Vernon was one of the players sanctioned by the NCAA last season for accepting money from Shapiro.